Can England defend their title in India this time?
The 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup is set to begin on October 5 with the first match to be played between the defending champions England and New Zealand at Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad. England, who won the previous edition of the World Cup, would be hoping to start the campaign on a winning note against the Blackcaps.
This time around, Jos Buttler will lead the side with Eoin Morgan already retired from the game. However, the core of that 2019 CWC squad still forms a key part of the 2023 CWC squad as skipper Buttler, Moeen Ali, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, and Ben Stokes are still at the top of their game.
Ben Stokes, who took the game away from New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup final, rescinded his ODI retirement a while ago and set to play the mega event. The other senior players including Bairstow, Buttler and Root would look to provide strength to this team.
Jos Buttler ©, Moeen Ali, Gus Atkinson, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, David Willey, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes
Strengthened Batting Order: The best part about England’s squad is the variety of batsmen they have in the squad. The strong list of batters would help England put big totals on the board on the Indian pitches. The experience of Buttler, Root, Stokes and Bairstow is going to help the title holders to play freely.
The big four from the squad have a tremendous experience of playing in India and they would want to use all their experience this time. With Dawid Malan in the squad and doing well as an opener, skipper Buttler and Stokes would marshall the middle order like the good old times.
The same core of players: England is one of the teams that has returned with its core set of players in this World Cup. Root was the top-scorer for England with 556 runs in 11 innings whereas Stokes played his part exceptionally well throughout the tournament.
Stokes and Woakes produced big performances in the 2019 CWC final scoring 84 runs and picking up three crucial wickets respectively. Woakes proved to be a match-winner in the semi-final too by picking up three wickets against Australia. They played a crucial role in the 2019 World Cup victory and are set to deliver for their team once again.
Strong pace attack: Even in the absence of Jofra Archer, England has an excellent pace attack core led at the moment by Woakes, Wood, and Reece Topley. Apart from these four, David Willey, Stokes, and Sam Curran can provide a perfect balance to this attack with their variations.
The rise of Topley, Curran, and Willey has allowed the English contingent to travel with three left-arm seamers, a luxury afforded by no other side participating in the upcoming 50-overs extravaganza.
Too much spotlight on Harry Brook: Harry Brook has been one of England’s most dangerous players in the past year and his inclusion in the squad is making a lot of headlines. The right-hander has replaced Jason Roy in the World Cup squad, leaving every cricket fan surprised. Roy has been England’s go-to batsman over the years, however, his fitness could be one of the issues for his exclusion from the squad.
Brook had a terrible outing against New Zealand in the recent ODI series, still, he got the chance ahead of Jason Roy for the mega event. With all eyes already on the young Brook, the move could backfire if the 24-year-old fails to deliver in India.
Absence of Jason Roy and Jofra Archer: Jason Roy was a part of the provisional squad but the selectors made a last-minute change to include Harry Brook instead of the experienced Roy. Brook made the cut despite unimpressive performances and Roy could not feature in the recent ODI series against New Zealand because of a back spasm. If Roy had played the series and scored some runs, he could have been in the squad for the World Cup.
Jofra Archer also missed out on making it to the squad after running out of time to prove his fitness. The sheer pace of Archer could have been quite dangerous for any side but it’s a sigh of relief for many teams that the fast bowler is only travelling to India as a reserve barring something miraculous in his recovery..
Chance for England to rule the cricketing world: England has had a remarkable time in limited-overs cricket over the past few years. The team won the 50-overs ICC World Cup in 2019 followed by a sensational victory in the ICC T20 World Cup last year.
If England manages to keep the juggernaut rolling and picks up another trophy, that too in Indian conditions, it would stamp this era of limited-overs players as the best ever to represent the nation in white-ball cricket.
Lack of ODIs played on Indian pitches: Though England looks like one of the most settled teams right now, the current World Cup holders haven’t played an ODI in India since March 2021. It’s been around two and a half years and it is not going to be easy for them to adapt to the conditions quickly.
Though players have played in IPL and are used to the pitches and conditions, however, ODI is a completely different format and it’s been a long gap for them since their last One-Day International. The pressure of defending the World Cup in the sub-continent will also be on the minds of English players who crashed out in the quarter-final in the 2011 edition.
Predicted Playing XI
Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Joe Root, Jos Buttler ©, Liam Livingstone, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood